Over the years, link building has changed. Anonymity, once a tool of the trade, will no longer take you far. If you truly want a link building campaign to succeed, you need to stay two steps ahead of your competition and three steps ahead of Google.

No longer can you afford to do the bare minimum when building high quality backlinks. You need to make sure that your competitors cannot duplicate them. By building a relationship with a fellow website in your related industry niche, you will be able to reach out to an audience you were unable to before and receive a high quality backlink that will make Google give you goo-goo eyes. You’ll also leave your competitor wondering how you got that perfect link.

Outreach emails are one method of building relationships, but they can be tricky.  So, for this Manager Monday, I thought I’d go over a few simple tips and tricks to make the job easier.

Simple Outreach
Let’s pretend you’ve done your research and have compiled the perfect list of websites you would like to reach out to in order for them to share your spectacular content.

First, let me start off by saying outreach isn’t easy. But it isn’t hard either.  Below you can find a few tips that will hopefully improve your email-to-link ratio.

  1. First and foremost, make sure your email is free of spelling and grammatical errors. There is nothing worse than receiving an email that sounds like it was put together by a third grader–or worse. Also, if the language you use isn’t your native tongue, own up to it. There should be no shame in being multilingual.
  2. What’s in it for them? Let’s be honest here; no one does anything for free. So why should the recipient link to you? If you can’t answer that question then they won’t be able to either. Don’t assume that they will be able to connect the dots. Do it for them. Perfectly lay out what they will get in return.
  3. Personalize. Make each and every email as unique as possible. Does this take a little extra time? Definitely. But the results speak for themselves. There is no point in sending out 1,000 cookie-cutter emails if you don’t receive a single link in return.  In this day and age, spam is everywhere. Make your email stand out by talking about previous posts the recipient has done or by mentioning something they said on one of their social media profiles. Show them that you did your research and it will greatly increase your chances in either a link back or the beginning of a relationship.

Outreach Tools to Make the Job Easier

Buzzstream
Buzzstream manages all of your link building needs. If you are unorganized, like me, this will be extremely useful.

Buzzstream

 

Rapportive via Gmail
Rapporative is a Gmail plugin to help you manage your contact information.

 Rapportive

Boomerang via Gmail
Boomerang is an easy-to-use Gmail plugin that will help you schedule emails and reminders–nothing like reaching out for a linking opportunity and missing out on it because you forgot to follow up.

Boomerang

Raven Tools
Since they discontinued their rank tracker, Ravel Tools has been updating older tools and offering new ones.  For outreach, I use their CRM and Link Manager.

 Raven

And That’s It
To wrap it up: do your homework, make sure you don’t sound like a third grader and tell them how they benefit. That’s it. Like I said earlier, outreach isn’t easy but it isn’t hard either. Let me know if you have any questions about the above tools in the comments!

Every SEO wants the “perfect” link profile, amongst other things.  Many digital marketers hope to one day achieve a solid link profile consisting entirely of high-quality, high-authority pages from well ranked, reputable domains.  However, a majority of websites, at one point or another, have received a less-than-desirable link or two.  Despite the occasional (and virtually inevitable) flaw in an otherwise pristine link profile, there is one important fact that all SEOs must remember: A few bad links don’t necessarily equate to bad rankings.

After Google algorithm updates such as Penguin debuted and affected the rankings of many sites and even caused de-indexation of others, the SEO community became extremely wary of low-quality links.  Rightfully so, as such links were amongst the primary targets of the now-notorious update.  In the months following the Penguin update, however, some SEOs noticed a surprising trend when analyzing their site’s link profile… a few bad links didn’t always hurt a site’s position in the SERPs.

Although “white hat” search engine optimization practitioners stand firmly behind the principles of natural, high-quality links, some sites have actually managed to avoid penalties even with several bad links pointing toward their domain.  In reality, a “good” link profile is all about diversity.

Natural links from blogs or online news and media sites are important.  As are links originating from relevant pages and domains.  Remember, a few bad links won’t ruin an otherwise strong profile.

While tools such as the new Google Disavow are helping many webmasters eliminate the risk of particularly harmful links pointing toward their site, it can be even more problematic for a site’s rankings if used incorrectly.  Even with innovations such as the Disavow tool, it is still critical for SEOs to monitor their site’s link profile closely and frequently to determine where the real concerns are.

Read more about Matt Cutts and the disavow tool related to the Penguin update.

That being said, a few bad links are not a concern for a site with an otherwise solid profile.  On the other hand, a few hundred low-quality links will almost certainly negate the value of even the most authoritative sites.  Overall, the best link profiles are the ones which look the most “genuine” to the search engines and as the saying goes:  Nobody’s perfect.

To analyze your own site’s link profile, try our new Website Analyzer tool and feel free to share your insights on link building and monitoring techniques with me on Twitter, by email or in the comments below!

Link building strategies have come a long way since the early days of SEO and search algorithm updates such as Google’s Panda and Penguin have made the process even more complex.  Formerly, link profiles existed merely to bolster the authority of pages within the SERPs.  However, the quality of those backlinks was not deemed to be nearly as important as quantity.  As the search engines have improved their functionality, quality and relevance have become crucial and certain link building strategies have been rendered obsolete.

Many webmasters find the task of building high-quality links to be particularly challenging and some may even wonder if there is still value in link building processes post-Penguin.  Does a strong link profile still matter to online businesses?  Yes.  In fact, it may be more important than ever before.

Why Links Still Work
Although Google, Bing and other search engines now consider quality to be paramount, quantity still plays a part in determining organic rankings.  Link building isn’t dead, it’s just different.  Paid links that were once effective for gaining authority are now penalized and backlinks from reputable sites have become even more valuable.

An Optimized Profile
P.R. initiatives, guest blogging and social media are proving to be effective ways for business owners and webmasters to gain high-quality, authoritative backlinks.  Additionally, these strategies also enhance overall brand awareness and visibility outside the SERPs.

The future of link building looks to be very secure.  It always has been and likely, always will be, a key component in SEO and digital marketing.  However, online businesses must be prepared to forge a new kind of link profile with quality at its core in order to retain their presence in the organic search rankings from here on out.

What are your thoughts on link building on the post-Penguin Web?  Drop me a line at brymshaw@webimax.com or follow me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

The effects of Google’s Penguin Update have been felt by many webmasters and digital marketers over the past six weeks.  Not surprisingly, a large percentage of sites impacted by the update were penalized due to their link profiles.  Before April 24th, paid links were prevalent throughout the Internet, but many link farming companies were reeling from the effects of Google’s Panda.  In fact, BuildMyRank.com was even de-indexed for its link building practices and was forced to shut down entirely.  Penguin’s debut effectively finished the job that Panda started by specifically targeting black and gray hat link building techniques, amongst other things.

Rebuilding Through Relevancy
Why does Google dislike link schemes?  Quite simply, they “cheat” known aspects of the search engine’s algorithm.  SEOs have been aware for quite some time that links affect organic rankings.  More links equate to higher authority in the SERPs.  However, Penguin was designed to carefully monitor those links for their relevancy and today, quality has become far more important than quantity.  Sites that were hit by Penguin for their irrelevant, low-quality backlinks must now focus on eliminating those and creating a stronger link profile.

Staying in the SERPs
After building relevant, high-quality links through blogs, social media and proactive outreach efforts, it is important for webmasters to retain those links while simultaneously striving to gain new ones, as well.  Backlinks have always been a significant ranking factor and will continue to be crucial in the future.  However, Penguin has shifted the balance and indefinitely changed link building strategies.  Going forward, an emphasis on quality links isn’t merely optional; it is an absolute necessity.

 

Discussion has arisen in the world of link building of late, for good reason.  Google made modifications; the search engine came down on suspicious linking practices.  The purpose is to rid the Web of unrighteous rankers and unscrupulous link building practices.

I’ve read a number of posts, urging clients and brands to rethink linking.  That’s great; I have experience in public relations, an aspect of link building many good practitioners encourage.  I’m no Seth Godin; but, the union of link building and PR has knocked at my intuition’s door for years.  Links are like votes.  How do you get votes without a little socialization, facilitating exposure and understanding?

Why PR Wasn’t Always Needed
I see you.  I understand how some brands got in trouble in the past; and, why some may be approached, to endure lost rankings or penalties in the future.  It’s anxiety.  Brands are anxious to compete in a competitive vertical.

Brands thought, “Gee, we don’t rank for major keywords right now.  Natural progression takes time.  How can we be impatient and get rankings now rather than later?  Hmm…we can get links from anywhere, just for now…”

Many sought unscrupulous ways to build links for desired keywords.  I’m not judging; however, many know the difference from a quality, natural link and one chased purely for rankings.  Usually money is the only necessity to get lower-valued links; when you’re not gunning for quality, PR is not a need.

Regardless of your past or present philosophy on link building, understand that getting good-fit links is building to last.  Other endeavors may not necessarily lay any lasting foundation at all; on the contrary, as we’re seeing, a short-term ‘fix’ can drastically breakdown future pursuits of success.

Why PR is a Need Now
PR is an inextricable need in organic link building these days.  I hope it stays that way.  My intuition tells me it will.  In short, this is why PR matters when it comes to rethinking linking:

-          Quality links come from quality sites.  For instance, many news sites are high authority sites.  Reporters and editors may randomly come across your URLs; but, don’t rely on chance.  Be proactive.  Find news sites covering your vertical.  The former may do so in a general or niche manner, either way, this is good.  What do you have of value to offer them?

 

-          Quality links come from quality personalities.  Many individuals write blogs or reference in-vertical material for readers.  Do you engage in your vertical?  If you don’t, bloggers (like the reporters and editors above) won’t just come across your material.  However, if you regularly read blogs, comment, and show a social presence in your vertical, you can build relations and links in the process.  What value can you offer bloggers and the community?

 

-          Quality links go to authority sites.  Rank is contingent on worth…to the browser, to the consumer.  Other sites, bloggers, and people will draw attention to your URLs if the pages are of quality. Engagement in your respective community and engagement with consumers warrants effective PR.  Effective PR doesn’t guarantee you have quality pages; but, it makes it likely you’ll be seen and gain ongoing attention.  I’ll say it again; PR is a means to an end of greater exposure, but doesn’t guarantee the end itself.  What value do you offer, warranting increased exposure?

Maybe this is the best way I can phrase it.  Like rank, PR and link building gain a business more exposure.  Getting more exposure is like your brand’s elevator pitch to the public; it helps get them to look your way and hear what you have to say.  Are goods, services, and Web properties deserved of quality attention?  That’s the first question to ask.  Poor quality attracts the same brand of attention.  Excellence begets excellent links and attention.  Can you be excellent?

Additional Resources
Chris Dyson – Optimize Your Link Building with Twitter

John Doherty – Link Branding: A Link Builder’s Marketing Mindset

Jason Acidre – 9 Tangible Linkable Asset Ideas and How to Build Links to Them

Linkpreneurs- The New School of Link building

WebiMax

How do you know if you’re getting the scoop on Snoop or some impostor?  Facebook’s name-verification facelift. If you didn’t get notified, you need to raise your level of clout…

Badgeville also made changes, integrating information from Klout, giving brands the ability to interpret if social ‘studs’ or ‘duds’ are taking part in ‘gamification.’

Are tweets allowed in all countries?  That’s a good question explored in Ryan Buddington’s post on Twitter and international censorship.

Do you plan on taking a trip this spring?  If you’re using Kayak to book a hotel, you’ll be pleased to know Durba Chatterjee blogged about how Kayak has integrated TripAdvisor ratings, helping the former’s users make better decisions based on the experiences of others.

 

Around the Web

Ken Wisnefski and Danny Sullivan were featured in a Fox News article on political Google bombs.

Rand Fishkin discusses and provides suggestions in regard to forming a Web marketing team.

Todd Bailey comments on social media remembering Whitney Houston.

Greg Sterling reflects Valentine’s search and mobile stats.

Matt McGee on January, online usage stats.

Liz Borod Wright on social media tips for bloggers.

Neil Patel on getting attention through social sharing.